Big breakthrough achieved in organ transplants

HOUSTON – Right now, despite all the high-tech advances, the gold standard for transporting a donated organ to a recipient is a simple a cooler. 

While that's the best we had currently have, trials are being conducted on a new machine designed specifically for livers. It works like a human body until the donated liver gets to its recipient.

Randy Smith spends time at church reading and talking to God. He said one time in particular God answered him.

"Two days after the first hospital told me I was terminal and I was praying and reading my Bible, the Holy Spirit came over me and told me I wasn't going to die," Smith said.

Smith was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and went to Houston Methodist Hospital for a second opinion. There he found Dr. Ashish Saharia had something other doctors did not know about.

While Methodist treated his cancer, Smith was put on the liver transplant list. He got a call that a match was found but the health of the organ was questionable.

"The liver that we got for him was a fatty liver, and otherwise we would have been a little hesitant using it but because we were able to put it in the machine and test that it was actually a good liver, we were able to put it in," Saharia said.  "It's almost like testing it on a machine before you put it in a human being so, so what's really fascinating about this is you can actually test whether or not it's going to work. Especially the livers that you don't know or you (are) worried that they won't work and if you can test whether the liver can work in a person, this is an ideal situation for them."

Saharia used the TransMedics OCS liver technology, which mimics the human body and tests whether or not the liver is going to work.